Disney Rewind – May 1994 – Weather Channel considers pavilion at Epcot
Still reeling from the sudden death of executive Frank Wells in April, and preparing for the release of The Lion King in June, Disney was largely quiet in May 1994. It opened the Wilderness Lodge resorts, continued into another season of MMC, and pondered a new pavilion at Epcot, while competitor Fox signed Don Bluth to a deal.
May 3: Fox announces partnership with Bluth
Twentieth Century Fox announces that it aims to compete with Disney, “to do animation on a grand level.” Fox’s first film is expected to be released around Christmas 1996. They intended to release a film every 18 months, eventually scaling up to once per year.
Twentieth’s president, Bill Mechanic, had previously been Disney’s president of international distribution and worldwide video. He signed a deal with Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, the duo behind An American Tail, The Land Before Time, and other titles.
May 3: Disney enters agreement on Celebration School
After two years discussion, the Osceola County School Board approved a agreement with Disney, to develop a school and teaching academy in Celebration, Florida. The $15.5 million school was to serve students from preschool to high school. The other 23 schools in the district were being impacted by budget cuts. The school’s teaching academy would “bring in national experts to train local teachers and others from around the world,” according to the Orlando Sentinel. “Innovative courses are planned and might include using Disney’s Epcot ’94 as a living classroom. Computer links between home and school are also in the works.”
May 12 to 17: Wrestling show tapes at Disney-MGM Studios
Thirteen episodes of World Championship Wrestling were taped in the Disney-MGM Studios, over the course of six evenings. Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, and Sting were among those flipping about on the mats.
May 20: Season 7 of MMC begins production
As production on season seven of the Mickey Mouse Club began at Disney-MGM Studios, there were a few noticeable changes. The show’s nickname – MMC – was now its official title, and the Mouseketeers are now just “cast members.” Hosts Terri Misney and Fred Newman were replaced by former cast members Tiffini Hale and Chase Hampton, and the set was now a “theatre-in-the-round.”
May 24: Weather Channel at Disney?
The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Weather Channel might move its studios to Epcot. Disney and Atlanta’s Landmark Communications, which owned the station, were in talks to create an attraction that would explain both meteorology and broadcasting. Even the National Hurricane Centre was believed to be part of the talks.
May 27: The Flintstones, seen as main rival to Lion King, opens in theatres
Universal Pictures’ big release of the summer, The Flintstones, includes a Disney reference. When the Dictabird is being handed over to the film’s baddies, it comments “I should have signed with Disney. They never would have allowed this sort of thing to happen.” Director Brian Levant loved the line, selected from 64 pages of possible jokes. The line scored big at test screenings, and studio executives begrudgingly let it stay in the movie, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
May 28: Wilderness Lodge opens
A rare Floridian hotel without a palm tree, Wilderness Lodge, opened at Walt Disney World. Modeled on the national park lodges of the American northwest. The lodge added 728 cozy rooms to the resort, bringing them up to roughly 12,000 units.